I just got word over the holiday weekend: Digital Photo Magazine honored my photograph - Ted, Tasmanian Sheep Farmer - with a first-place award in their Art of Photography Contest, Environmental Portraits category. If you are looking to gain recognition and connections within the imaging arts community, submitting your work to contests is crucial---but be selective.
Study the images from a competition's previous winners; determine what types of photographs win with this judging panel. Is this a conservative judging panel with a preference for classical imaging? Do the competition judges tend to celebrate innovative digital effects?
It might seem like obvious advice: "Know to whom you're submitting before you submit." But, as a competition judge myself, I've seen far too many worthy art works go to the wayside, only because the image didn't match the criteria for the submission.
Use your time and energy strategically. Make sure your hard work has the most appropriate platform to arrest a judge's attention and awaken others to your gift for the art of photography. Happy hunting!